Pali High Football Blanks Cleveland 27-0 in Season Opener at Stadium by the Sea
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
The concern Palisades High football coach Tim Hyde had heading into last Friday night’s season opener was how his youthful, inexperienced squad would respond to pressure under the bright new lights at Stadium by the Sea. Two and a half hours later he had his answer.
The Dolphins’ defense limited Cleveland to 12 yards and no first downs in the first half and less than 100 yards from scrimmage in the entire game while the offense erupted for three touchdowns in the second half for a 27-0 victory—Palisades’ fifth shutout under Hyde and the first since a 41-0 rout of Carson in the first round of the 2016 City Division I playoffs.
“We have so many young kids—we’re not using that as an excuse but as an advantage… it’s a new team,” Hyde said. “It’s my sixth year here but it feels like my first. We lost a lot of really good football players. It’s a whole new crop but it’s exciting to coach these kids, to see them develop and grow. We made a ton of mistakes, then we made some subtle adjustments. We went into halftime, hunkered down and talked about doing what we’ve workedon since summer conditiong started.”
Co-captain Jake Nadley made the first big play with a one-handed interception of an overthrown ball at the Cleveland 34. On the ensuing drive the Dolphins fumbled at the Cavaliers’ 13-yard line, but the defense kept forcing punts and midway through the second quarter senior quarterback Daniel Hayes found Nadley over the middle on a 27-yard touchdown pass.
“We were in I think trips left and I was wide open,” said Nadley, who added another interception in the third quarter. “I saw the safety coming so I stopped and made a cut because I knew he’d hit me if I kept going straight. It was all green from there. Both of my picks I was playing safety on the boundary and I was just reading the quarterback and I was fortunate enough for the ball to land in my hands.”
Cleveland drove to Palisades’ 12 with under two minutes left but the Dolphins’ defense held and the offense proceeded to pick up a first down and run out the clock.
“The shutout was very important,” Nadley said. “We didn’t want them to score. We didn’t want them to feel good about themselves. That was a pride thing for us and it was big for our defense. On the defensive side we just need to maintain outside contain and on the offensive side we just need to take care of the ball. If we do that we’ll put more points on the scoreboard.”
One play after a fumbled exchange gave Cleveland the ball at its own 38 late in the first half, co-captain and safety Will Janney intercepted a pass at midfield and returned it 20 yards. He and tight end/linebacker Noah Ghodooshim played every snap.
“We played a handful of guys on the offensive line, about eight, just rotating… we’re still trying to figure out that right mix. We’ve had an injury or two so guys have missed practice. It may take us another two or three weeks, but we have five more weeks to get better before our league opener. It’s really all about playing 48 minutes, whether you’re up 14 or down 14 you never know what’s going to happen. The secondary is one area where we have a lot of experience. That team had some athletes, they were rotating at quarterback, but they made the Division II finals last year and now they’re playing Division I with us. We may see these guys come November 10, who knows? That’s why these games are so important early on. Winning this first game somehow, someway is all we talked about all week. I’m proud of the kids. They played with a ton of energy!”
Palisades took the second half kickoff and marched to its own 44 before Max Palees broke loose for a 56-yard touchdown that gave the Dolphins a 14-0 lead.
Nadley’s second interception near midfield set up another score. This time Hayes escaped the pocket and broke several tackles on his way to the end zone on a 30-yard keeper. Tommy Meek’s extra-point kick was blocked but suddenly Palisades was up 20-0 midway through the third quarter.
“I should’ve probably handed the ball off but I had a defender bearing down on me,” Hayes said. “I pushed his arm down, spun around and so there was no hole that way so I went the other way. I had Cristian [Popescu] blocking for me and I actually had to push him out of bounds in order for me to stay inbounds. It worked out.”
Hayes scored again on a four-yard run to close out the scoring early in the fourth quarter.
Palees and Hayes led the rushing attack aided by Tayari Gloster and Adam Cravens. Ghodooshim had an 18-yard reception at tight end and teamed with Will Clifford and Sy Riley to form a formidable trio at linebacker. Jack Stansell started at left tackle and made punishing hits at defensive end and David Pierre was a standout at noseguard.